This excellent report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. The future of the M1 Abrams tank is uncertain. With current fiscal constraints and the requirement for expeditionary maneuver, the U.S. Army is under pressure to demonstrate the need for its main battle tank. The purpose of this study is to inform the future role of the M1 Abrams tank by analyzing hybrid threat trends, understanding U.S. Army force structure challenges, and determining the relevancy of combined arms maneuver in the future operating environment. The study analyzes the Israeli Defense Force and its employment of the Merkava tank during Operation Cast Lead and Operation Protective Edge to develop insights and lessons learned. Drawing from these lessons, the study argues that the capabilities of the main battle tank are more critical and relevant in a hybrid environment than was seen in the past thirteen years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The study concludes that the role of the M1 Abrams tank in the U.S. Army of 2015-2025 is to provide a mobile and survivable precision firepower platform to execute effective combined arms operations against a sophisticated hybrid threat with anti-tank guided missile capabilities in order to seize and hold terrain, mass discretionary fires, and destroy the enemy threat.
ACRONYMS * CHAPTER 1 - INTRODUCTION * Hybrid Threat * U.S. Army Force Structure * CAM * M1 Abrams Tank * Problem Statement * IDF and the Merkava Main Battle Tank * 2006 Lebanon War * Operations Cast Lead and Protective Edge * IDF Merkava Main Battle Tank * Research Questions, Assumptions, Scope, and Limitations * Conclusion * CHAPTER 2 - LITERATURE REVIEW: M1 ABRAMS TANK * Arguments for the M1 Abrams Tank * Arguments against the M1 Abrams Tank * Conclusion * CHAPTER 3 - LITERATURE REVIEW: SECOND LEBANON WAR * Conclusion * CHAPTER 4 - METHODOLOGY * Operational Assessment and Insights * IDF Merkava Main Battle Tank * CHAPTER 5 - OPERATION CAST LEAD * Hybrid Threat * Terrain * Hamas * Force Structure * Combined Arms Maneuver * Ground Campaign * Main Battle Tank * Operational Assessment and Insights * Conclusion * CHAPTER 6 - OPERATION PROTECTIVE EDGE * Hybrid Threat * Force Structure * Combined Arms Maneuver * Ground Campaign * Main Battle Tank * Modernization * Merkava Utilization and Performance * Operational Assessment and Insights * Conclusion
The chapters are organized to analyze the role of the main battle tank in the proper analytic context established at the beginning of the chapter. Chapter 2 provides a literature review of the current debates arguing for and against the M1 Abrams tank in the U.S. Army force structure. Chapter 3 presents a detailed overview of the 2006 Lebanon War to provide context for the IDF's ensuing conflicts in the Gaza Strip. Chapter 4 describes the methodology by which the case studies are analyzed and presents hypotheses to inform the problem statement. Chapters 5 and 6 analyze Operation Cast Lead and Operation Protective Edge and provide an in-depth look at Hamas preparation and tactics, IDF force structure, execution of CAM, and the tactical role of the Merkava tank. At the end of each case study, the chapters provide an overall assessment of the operation and present lessons learned for the U.S. Army. The final chapter of the study offers insights and recommendations for the U.S. Army and submits several areas for further research.